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Thursday, December 29, 2016

France welcomes Kerry's speech

French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Wednesday hailed Secretary of State John Kerry's speech on Middle East peaceThe Associated Press reported.

Ayrault called Kerry's speech "clear, courageous and committed" adding that France shares Kerry's belief in a two-state solution that envisions Israel and the new nation of Palestine "living side by side in peace and security."

He further said that Kerry's speech reinforced "the necessity and the urgency to implement this two-state solution." Kerry’s speech was critical of Israel, as he singled out Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria as preventing peace. "Settlement expansion has nothing to do with Israeli security," he said, adding that they make it "that much harder to separate."

France is currently leading efforts to restart the stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, having already held a preliminary conference this past June and announcing last week that a follow up conference will be held on January 15.

Israel has long opposed the French initiative, explaining that the only way to reach a peace agreement is through direct talks with the PA, which the PA refuses, choosing instead to impose preconditions on talks. Just recently, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told French President Francois Hollande that he was willing to meet Abbas "directly, without preconditions”.